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Pa. community rallies around injured firefighter at fundraiser

May 22, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Jason Kuehler smiles as he looks at his 18-month-old son, Andrew, Sunday during the MOMS Club of Chambersburg West's spaghetti dinner at Franklin Fire Co. in Chambersburg, Pa. All proceeds will go to the Kuehler family to help with medical and other expenses during Jason's recovery from injuries he suffered while fighting a March 19 fire in Hamilton Township, Pa.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Two months ago, Jason Kuehler’s friends were feeding him and wiping his brow as he lay incapacitated in a burn unit.

On Sunday, Kuehler was able to join them at a fundraiser for his medical expenses. The MOMS Club of Chambersburg West hosted a spaghetti dinner to continue its support of the Kuehler family in the weeks following a March 19 fire in which the father of two was badly burned.

“The support has been overwhelming,” said Kuehler, 33.

Kuehler, assistant chief of Franklin Fire Co., suffered injuries when a fire “flashed” in a mobile home at 1449 Frank Road in Hamilton Township, Pa. The Chambersburg resident continues to undergo physical therapy in hopes of regaining full use of his hands, which he was initially told would need to be amputated.

“The way I look at it, it could always be worse,” Kuehler said.

Kuehler’s wife, Dana, joined MOMS Club of Chambersburg West more than a year ago when she wanted to connect with people after the birth of their son, Andrew. Today, she is the club’s membership vice president.

Club President Tammy Boyce said members are cleaning the Kuehler house and watching their children. They hosted another fundraiser at Red Robin several weeks ago.

“When we come home (from appointments), we have a hot meal (from the club), so we can sit down and eat as a family,” Kuehler said.

“As soon as we found out that morning (of the fire), there were several phone calls and emails saying ‘What can we do to help?’” Boyce said.

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Boyce said she hoped the spaghetti dinner and accompanying raffle would raise $5,000.

Franklin Fire Co. President Jim Hull cooked pasta for the fundraiser. “We’re family,” Hull said. “We take care of each other.”

“They’ve always been there for us,” said Thelma Hull, his mother.

Marion, Pa., junior firefighters Katelyn Miley, Morgan McGinnis and Scotty Kline said they learned about the fundraiser through their fire department and Facebook.

“I heard about his story and thought it was inspiring,” said Morgan, 16.

“I was on the fire that Jason got burned on. I wanted to support the Kuehlers,” said Katelyn, 17.

“It was for a really nice cause,” said Scotty, 16.

Kuehler said his physical therapists are hopeful he’ll make a full recovery, but they say it is too soon to say for certain whether that will happen. He said the experience has taught him patience and humility.

“The mind works and the body doesn’t. There’s a lot I want to do and can’t,” Kuehler said.

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